Can taking this help shorten your cold?

While they might make you feel soothed, most don’t do much to cure your cold. However, there is some scientific evidence that zinc supplements may help shorten the duration of your cold.

Everyone has their family remedies for the common cold… a bowl of piping hot chicken noodle soup, a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon, a steamy eucalyptus-scented bath.

A recent story by National Public Radio reported that in the last several years there have been studies that show some supplements containing zinc can shorten the duration of cold symptoms by up to 40%.

“Most colds are caused by the rhinovirus which settles in the nasal passages and throat,” explains Dr. Edmund Fernandez, family medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Slinger, WI. “There is evidence that zinc may actually prevent the rhinovirus from multiplying and, therefore shorten the length of a cold. Upping the amount you take in when you have a cold can be beneficial.”

Even though it was only recognized as an essential mineral by the National Academy of Science as recently as the 1970s, zinc is essential to the human body in that it aids in cell metabolism. The established recommended daily allowance of zinc is 11 milligrams for adult men and 8 milligrams for adult women.

Most individuals achieve the proper level of zinc through a balanced diet including whole grains, nuts, beans and fortified cereals. However, to reach the 75 milligrams recommended to ward off the common cold, supplements in the form of lozenges or syrup are typically needed.

“To realize the greatest benefit, it is recommended to take zinc supplements within the first 24 hours after the onset of cold symptoms,” Dr. Fernandez says.

Other steps that can help you rebound from a cold include:

Get plenty of sleep. Feeling fatigued is the body’s way of telling you that you need more rest. As it is working harder to fight off germs, you will need more sleep than you are used to getting.

Eat a balanced meal. While your limited sense of smell may play havoc with your appetite, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure you are getting the necessary vitamins to help you fight off the cold.

Follow up with your doctor. While antibiotics are not the answer for the common cold, it is important to follow up with your doctor if you still are not feeling well after a couple of weeks. Your doctor can determine if your symptoms are in fact a cold, or something more serious.

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